With the foot on the accelerator
Olympiacos beat Armani Jeans Milano 82-81 and completed the Euroleague Regular Season with an 8-2 record. Great performances by Hines, Law, Spanoulis and Powell.
The Piraeus team did not begin the game well, and the players of Armani took advantage of the situation, managing to lead 19-16 at the first quarter after making back to back threes. But then, it was the turn for Vassilis Spanoulis to take action and together with Law gave the ‘reds’ the lead (45-38).
The guests continued with the same percentages from behind the 6.75m. line and the game was even at 30’ (62-62). At the end, the players of Giorgos Barztokas, being more even headed, got an 82-81 victory. Now Olympiacos will be in the sixth group of the TOP-16, together with Barcelona, Khimki, Fenerbahce/Ulker, Besiktas, Maccabi, Siena and Caja Laboral.
The quarters: 16-19, 45-38, 62-62, 82-81 Ο lympiacos (Bartzokas): Hines 16 (7reb.), Law 14 (1 3p., 4 as.), Antic, Spanoulis 18 (1 3p., 4t., 4as.), Perperoglou 6, Sloukas 1, Mavroeidis, Powell 10, Gecevicius, Printezis 2, Papanikolaou 12 (2), Mantzaris 3 (1)
Armani Jeans Milano (Scariolo): Stipcevic 3 (1), Hairston 7, Fotsis 5 (1), Cook 9 (2), Giotti 2, Bourousis 13 (1 3p., 12reb.), Meli 8 (2), Langford 21, Gentile 13 (1 3p., 6reb.), Hendrix, Bazile
GIORGOS BARTZOKAS: “We completed the Regular Season with an 8-2 record. Considering that we began with 1-2, I think we did well. Tonight’s game has been peculiar, since it bore no ranking value, if you see what happened to all the rest of the games. We had to find motivation to play for the fans and to keep in shape, keeping in mind a very demanding schedule that follows. We never found defensive rhythm, so as to play well in offense; we shot with very poor percentages outside the three-point line. That kept Armani within the game. If you watch their course in all of the ten games played, they lost for one shot in Kaunas and in Vitoria, since they are a quite talented team and plays well on the road. In general, they are a team that can cause you a lot of problems if you fail to impose your tempo. Congratulations to our players and to all those comprising our team, we now face new challenges ahead of us for the TOP-16, the Greek League and the Greek Cup”.
As for the new TOP-16 group, the Greek coach said “There are no easy games, either at or away from home. I think this is going to be the same in the other group as well. I think that we should only focus on the next game and nothing more. If you start thinking I should make the top four, or the top two, having to play 14 games, you are going to look for the tree and miss the forest. What we originally have to do is to play a league game in 30 hours from now and a cup game that, should we win, will lead us to the final, and then, during Christmas prepare for the first game of the TOP-16. There are teams coming from strong Leagues, Champion teams like Siena and Maccabi. We always need to improve and I think we are going to do well. Tonight’s game may not have excited the fans, but actually, games like that are good mental practices for the players”.
On the other group and about TOP-16 in general: “I really think that the other group is tough too. This series ends in April, the teams are going to reshape, get re-enforced, there are going to be injuries, many things are going to change. Whoever underestimates some team is going to pay for it”.
On the shape Olympiacos is in
: “This is a discussion largely extended. First of all, tonight we did not seem to be in that great a shape. We enter each game aiming for the best. I repeat, we try not to have the players play more than 25 minutes in either the Greek League or the Euroleague. Only Spanoulis got to play more than 25 minutes tonight. We want to keep the players fresh; we have made some tests to see where they stand at this point. And of course, we try to get the best from each player”.
About the new TOP-16 format and whether it’s helpful to the teams: “We should not be talking about these things. I think it’s helpful to the fans. Many more high level games. The team has a good package for 7+1 tickets, including the game against Panathinaikos, in really affordable prices. For all those who love basketball and Olympiacos, it’s going to be a good chance to watch some good games here”.